ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Whither Democratic Revival?

Political Crisis in Sri Lanka

The ongoing political and constitutional crisis in Sri Lanka has opened up a period of uncertainties that jeopardise the agenda of democratic renewal. Stemming from the conflict between President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and their political formations, recent events constitute a strange political story of how a regime with so much reform promise has ultimately decayed into a political ragedy of unbelievable proportions.

Sri Lanka’s political crisis is deepening with no signs of early settlement of the unfolding power struggle between President Maithripala Sirisena and the “sacked’” Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe. It is a crisis of several dimensions—constitutional, political, institutional, and personal. It is also a story about the collapse of a project of democratic revival and consolidation that began just four years ago with so much popular support, international backing, and indeed much promise. The ways in which the present crisis further unfolds and eventually ends will also have a direct bearing on the democratic future of Sri Lanka’s citizens. One side to the conflict represents a camp of weak and shaky democrats, and the other, hard and determined authoritarians. Odds are even at present.

In the latest stage of the crisis, Sri Lanka’s judiciary made two major interventions over the last few weeks, which have somewhat slowed down the intensity of the crisis escalation. Both judicial decisions have offered interim relief to Wickremesinghe and his United National Front (UNF). The first was by the Supreme Court on a fundamental rights petition and it has temporarily halted the dissolution of parliament by Sirisena. The second, by the Court of appeal, has suspended the appointment of Mahinda Rajapaksa as the new prime minister. Thus, at the time of writing, Sri Lanka has neither a prime minister, nor a cabinet, not even a government. Until the judiciary makes final determination towards the end of this week or next week, the office of the President is the functioning centre of governmental power.

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Updated On : 14th Dec, 2018

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